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Newborn Breastfeeding and the 10th Day Growth Spurt

newborn breastfeeding

Breastfeeding success has always been an important goal for Birth Boot Camp and breastfeeding education is included in our online and in-person classes through a long and detailed video presentation by Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC. One thing that often throws people off in their breastfeeding journey is the very early days and the confusion and lack of personal confidence that unexpected growth spurts can cause for the nursing mother. We love this guest today from Alex Rounds, an experienced breastfeeding mother and lactation counselor. Our hope is that you will read this and share it with expecting mothers so that they can thrive during the first months of breastfeeding. And, if you are really passionate about breastfeeding, taking her advice and giving mom a gift during this “10th day growth spurt” just might change a life and help preserve a nursing relationship. 

Enjoy!

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Experienced parents recognize some baby shower gifts don’t end up getting much use. We can’t predict what we’re really going to need until we meet our babies. But there are some things about infants that are predictable, like dirty diapers, sleep debt and growth spurts. We know babies grow quickly by the sheer volume of newborn to 0-3 month clothes on the registry, but the actual implications in terms of feeding aren’t often talked about. So I want to share a proposal that would make a fantastic tradition of giving a 10 day growth spurt gift/IOU to every mom out there. Women Infant and Children (WIC) Director Peter Schlichting brought up the idea with intent to give new moms extra attention and love at a time when hormone levels are dropping and infant needs are increasing as a way to promote continued breastfeeding, but a 10 Day Growth Spurt Gift should be for all moms.

All moms can probably use a little extra attention during the postpartum period, but breastfeeding moms and their newborns may especially benefit from a reminder around the time of the first major growth spurt. The gift of time and companionship when a new mom is home alone with what may seem to be an insatiable newborn can be incredible. In the United States, breastfeeding initiation rates are almost 80% but rates drop to 40% by 3 months (CDC, 2014), a drop largely attributed to concerns regarding milk supply (Li, R., Fein, S., Chen, J., & Grummer-Strawn, L 2008). Often this is misguided: it is not necessarily a supply issue but a growth spurt. If we can help moms get through the first growth spurt, maybe we can help increase breastfeeding rates at 3 months and beyond.

The gift can be anything from a pedicure, massage, lunch date or anything special for the mom. It should be something for the woman, not for her baby, and adaptable to whatever the moms needs are at the time. After giving birth, focus shifts from the woman to her baby, a new mother’s hormones are in flux and if she is like most women, she has lost a little sleep since her darling little one arrived. The combination of a baby with a growth spurt and a hormonal shifts can be rough on Moms to put it mildly, so a little extra attention and focus on the Mom can help her adapt and give Mom the boost she probably needs.

Getting out of the house might be a treat at this stage, but not all women are ready to venture out, so keep in mind your friend’s perspective. If you plan a trip out- you might want to include an hour of your time to help Mom get out the door with her little one, and to offer to drive. For Moms who aren’t ready to leave home, bringing take out lunch from a favorite restaurant or having a home visit by a massage therapist with postpartum experience can be phenomenal. Take the time together to ask how she is doing, if she’s getting enough help and how breastfeeding is going for her.

The first growth spurt usually occurs between 10 and 14 days and comes at an often difficult time for breastfeeding moms. Whether breastfeeding has started off without a hitch or with challenges, the breastfeeding mom may feel that things should be getting easier. But then a few weeks after birth the baby will increase the frequency and often amount of time spent at feedings. Uplifting mother centered support can be the light that helps her get through the frequent feedings that come with growth spurts. When you give her the 10 Day Growth Spurt Gift, talk with her, she how she’s doing, and ask her if she has noticed a growth spurt, and if she hasn’t yet, you can remind her to expect one soon.

Some points that are important to know about breastfeeding that can help Mom, family and friends understand breastfeeding are:

Milk production is triggered by demand. The more a baby nurses, the more milk will be produced.

Frequent feedings are normal for a few days during growth spurts but typically space out within 2-3 days.

Breastfeeding takes more time in the beginning but long term is less time consuming than formula feeding.

Breast milk is easy for babies to digest. It moves through their digestive system with ease. That’s why babies need to nurse frequently. Formula is more difficult to digest.

Newborns should breastfeed 12 or more times in 24 hours. At the same time, it’s important to watch babies hunger cues, and not necessarily go by the clock.

Babies may cluster feed, or feed several times over several hours, then take a break. This is normal.

If your friend who has planned to breastfeed is having trouble or has questions, many communities have La Leche League Chapters (find them here http://www.llli.org/webus.html) which typically hold monthly woman to woman support meetings. LLL leaders, Breastfeeding or Lactation Counselors, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and other professionals who specialize in breastfeeding are great resources too!

A little extra support, a treat, and a reminder about normal developments can help a new Mom when things may seem hard. Let’s do our best to help new moms transition into motherhood. Let’s make sure new Moms know they have a community that cares, who they can lean on, and that there are resources. And most of all, let’s take care of them.

Alex Rounds, Doula

In a nutshell, Alex Rounds is a moderately well-adjusted human being.  She is a member of La Leche League, a Breastfeeding Counselor, and Mom with a total of 8 years personal experience breastfeeding, not all of which were easy.  She has three fun, quirky and ever-challenging sweet kids. Presently, Alex’s time is consumed with homeschooling, studying midwifery, volunteering, providing breastfeeding support, and attending birth as a doula.

 

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For new parents, one of the most frequently asked questions is “Are you getting any sleep?” What is a new couple to do when everyone wonders how you and your baby are “performing” in this area?  Here are a few simple tips that can help in those early days without resorting to less “baby-friendly” methods.

Understanding the basic needs and patterns of a newborn is very helpful.  This does not sound like a tip to help baby sleep, but it will guide you and lend wisdom. Flexibility and realistic understanding of newborn needs can help your baby make more sense to you.   Read more

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Three Basic Baby Carriers

Three Basic Baby Carriers From Newborn To Toddler

Babywearing is one of the seven B’s of attachment parenting. While Dr. Sears told us all the benefits of babywearing, he could have written a completely separate book on the different WAYS to wear your baby. Like most things with babies, I am of the mindset that baby carriers are largely transitional with the different stages of development. While one type of carrier is great for a newborn it might not be ideal for a toddler and visa-versa.  So how does a new mom, a first time mom, or even a first time babywearer pick the best baby carrier for their family’s needs? A friend and I have developed what we call the trifecta of baby carriers. These are the three carriers that we feel are great for any babywearer.

In my experience, most everybody starts with a stretchy wrap or carrier. It only makes sense, it is the cheapest of the trifecta and is available in most big box retail stores. Moby is the most widely known and available, though there are other comparable brands such as the Boba Wrap. Stretchy wraps and carriers are usually made out a stretchy jersey material. Wrap versions can be very versatile, but also carry a bit of learning curve. This is usually overcome by a pre wrapped stretchy carrier, such as the Baby K’tan.  Two problems I had with the stretchy carrier were:  I was unable to back wrap, due to it being unsafe, in addition to the fact that the weight limit was very low. By the time my son was about 15lbs my lower back was looking for a different solution. None the less, the stretchy wrap did serve its purpose very early on.

Another problem I had early on with my stretchy wrap was the length of time it took me to tie it in public. Not to mention the fact that it drug the nasty, dirty parking lot while I was trying to get it tied on outside of my car. With practice I got much quicker at this, but as I mentioned before there is a bit of learning curve. My solution to the learning curve was the ring sling. Ring slings are WONDERFUL to nurse in discreetly, as well as getting a baby in and out of the car quickly. The weight limit on ring slings can vary. The brand that I chose was SlingEze. I chose that one largely due to the padded shoulder and adjustable size. There are a variety of slings available some offer those options, others simply don’t.  The choice on those features are largely personal, but I knew when hanging 20lbs from one shoulder that I wanted a little bit of cushion.

Even though my sling offered a great cushioned shoulder, eventually even that was overcome by gravity. Hang a 20lb baby from your shoulder for a couple hours and you will understand. This, combined with my husband’s reluctance to participate in what I found to be a quite enjoyable and meaningful experience lead me to buy my first soft structured carrier.

The soft structured carriers or the dad carrier is the final rung of the trifecta of carriers. If dad will wear a backpack, he more than likely will wear a soft structured carrier. It is not recommended that you ever face your child forward on your front due to stress on their spine; back wearing was my solution for the curious toddler who wanted to see everything as I saw it. Soft structured carriers are the only carrier in the trifecta where back carries are recommended. If not for back carries my babywearing relationship might have ended at least a year before its prime.

Besides being dad and back carry friendly, soft structured carriers also have one of the broadest weight limits, most will start as early as newborn (some require extra parts for this) and go up to 45lbs. One of the main things to look for in a good carrier are a wide seat, you want to see the butt of the carrier stretch from knee to knee like the Boba 3G. Narrow seats put undue stress on the hips and are contraindicated by the International Hip Displasia Institute. Unfortunately, the soft structured carrier is also the most expensive carrier of the trifecta. 

There are a thousand different types of carriers, these are the top three basic carriers. Anything beyond this is what I, personally, consider intermediate or advanced baby wearing devices, in that their learning curves and prices increase, sometimes, exponentially. For more information on the trifecta or intermediate or advanced carriers find a local specialty store, visit them, AND shop with them. You will find a hidden wealth of knowledge in many cloth diaper stores, plus the time and man hours that are required to give you the personal attention you deserve. Another option is to search out local babywearing groups. Additional resources can be found nationwide at www.babywearinginternational.org or  www.thebabywearer.com

Credit: Valerie Cannon Photography

Tiffany Carra owns the Fort Worth Cloth Diaper Store, Simple Baby, and is a chapter leader for the Tarrant County Birth Network, a chapter of BirthNetwork National. For more information about attachment parenting and cloth diapering topics visit the Simple Baby Blog.

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